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Skywalking Behind-The-Scenes of ZOOTOPIA
March 3, 2016 Entertainment

With the imminent release of Disney’s ZOOTOPIA on March 4th (click here for our 100% spoiler-free review), it’s the perfect time to bring you Behind-The-Scenes stories from the Press Day Sarah attended at Walt Disney Animation Studios. We had press roundtables with the Directors, Writers, Production Designers and Character Designers/Animators of ZOOTOPIA. Here we bring you audio of the event, with amazing stories, fun facts and great behind-the-scenes knowledge from the filmmakers themselves. It’s like DVD Extras before the DVD is out!! Click below to listen.


On October 27th, we were invited to a Long Lead Press Day at the Walt Disney Studios which was half a day of meeting with the Directors, Writers and Animators of Zootopia. We screened about 25 minutes of the film in bits and pieces while Directors Byron Howard and Rich Moore talked us through the characters and plot, then they shared some amazing stories. After that, we were driven to the Tujunga Campus and had about 20 minute roundtables with different teams working on the film – the Writers, Character Designers, Production Designers and Heads of Animation. There’s some awesome Behind-the-Scenes info here, and it gives nothing away as to the intricacies of plot in Zootopia.

zootopia concept art

DIRECTORS BYRON HOWARD and RICH MOORE

Let’s start with the directors. After attending several press days for different events, I’ve determined that I like talking with directors best. They know the most about the film, and have really thought deeply about every aspect of the movie. Eager to meet Byron Howard as he was a Director on Tangled!! Rich Moore, before he worked on Wreck-It Ralph and Zootopia, was a writer on The Simpsons from 1990-93, as well as a writer and Producer on Futurama.

Directors Rich Moore & Byron Howard and Producer Clark Spencer present at the Zootopia Long Lead Press Days on October 27, 2015 at the Walt Disney Studios Tujunga Campus. (Photo by Alex Kang. ©2015 Disney. All Rights Reserved.)

Directors Rich Moore & Byron Howard and Producer Clark Spencer present at the Zootopia Long Lead Press Days on October 27, 2015 at the Walt Disney Studios Tujunga Campus. (Photo by Alex Kang. ©2015 Disney. All Rights Reserved.)

ZOOTOPIA – Character CG Model Lineup. ©2015 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

ZOOTOPIA – Character CG Model Lineup. All Characters are to scale in this film. From the smallest mouse to the tallest Giraffe. ©2015 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

ZOOTOPIA WRITERS On A Story Safari

The story is the king of the jungle! We had an enlightening session with Writer and Co-Director Jared Bush, Writer Phil Johnston, Story Artist Marc Smith and Head of Editorial Fabienne Rawley. They took us through their process of one scene in Zootopia. Demonstrating that scene from one year ago to how it’s evolved today. And when you see the scene in the actual film on March 4th, we’ll see if it’s evolved further!

Writer and Co-Director Jared Bush and Writer Phil Johnston present at the Zootopia Long Lead Press Days on October 27, 2015 at the Walt Disney Studios Tujunga Campus. (Photo by Alex Kang. ©2015 Disney. All Rights Reserved.)

Writer and Co-Director Jared Bush and Writer Phil Johnston present at the Zootopia Long Lead Press Days on October 27, 2015 at the Walt Disney Studios Tujunga Campus. (Photo by Alex Kang. ©2015 Disney. All Rights Reserved.)

 

FUN FACT: The voices of directors Byron Howard and Jared Bush appear in the film because they were recorded arguing during a Story Group meeting. Part of the “DIY” process is recording different sounds and voices with a laptop really quickly, in order to create a final story-boarded scene. This particular sound made its way from Story Group meeting to the production edit and on to the final film. Listen for the director’s voices as Judy Hopps’ “angry neighbors!”

ZOOTOPIA - Zootopia leadership dailies. ©2015 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

ZOOTOPIA – Zootopia leadership dailies as they hash out the story. ©2015 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

PRODUCTION DESIGN and ENVIRONMENT

Before they populate the world with characters, first the animators have to create the world in which these animals live. Art Director of Environments Matthias Lechner and Environment Look Supervisor Lance Summers explained how they did this while showing us some beautiful pre-production paintings and concept art.

Zootopia

Zootopia © Disney. All Rights Reserved.

ZOOTOPIA

ZOOTOPIA. ©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

ZOOTOPIA

ZOOTOPIA – Train Station. ©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

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ANIM(AL)ATION!

Now that we have our world in place, we can populate it with animals and characters! I was super excited to talk with Character Design Supervisor Cory Loftis, Character Look Supervisor Michelle Robinson, Character CG Supervisor Dave Komorowski and Simulation Supervisor Claudia Chung Sanii. They got to look at super-cute bunnies all day!

ZOOTOPIA - (L-R) Animation Supervisors Kira Lehtomaki, Bobby Huth and Jennifer Hager. ©2015 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

ZOOTOPIA – Animation Supervisors Kira Lehtomaki, Bobby Huth and Jennifer Hager. ©2015 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

Animation Supervisor Nathan Engelhardt, Animation Supervisor Jennifer Hager, Head of Animation Renato dos Anjos, Animation Supervisor Chad Sellers and Animation Supervisor Kira Lehtomaki present at the Zootopia Long Lead Press Days on October 27, 2015 at the Walt Disney Studios Tujunga Campus. (Photo by Alex Kang. ©2015 Disney. All Rights Reserved.)

Animation Supervisor Nathan Engelhardt, Animation Supervisor Jennifer Hager, Head of Animation Renato dos Anjos, Animation Supervisor Chad Sellers and Animation Supervisor Kira Lehtomaki present at the Zootopia Long Lead Press Days on October 27, 2015 at the Walt Disney Studios Tujunga Campus. (Photo by Alex Kang. ©2015 Disney. All Rights Reserved.)

ZOOTOPIA – Character Concept Art of Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde by Director Byron Howard. ©2015 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

ZOOTOPIA – Character Concept Art of Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde by Director Byron Howard. ©2015 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

ZOOTOPIA

Zootopia’s biggest pop star Gazelle (voiced by Shakira) © Disney. All Rights Reserved.

Zootopia

Zootopia © Disney. All Rights Reserved.

Zootopia Bogo

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With all the work involved in ZOOTOPIA, I can’t wait to see this movie. To read Behind-The-Scenes fun facts be sure to check out our Fun Facts of Anim(al)ation Character Design.

Walt Disney Animation Studios’ ZOOTOPIA, a comedy-adventure directed by Byron Howard (“Tangled,” “Bolt”) and Rich Moore (“Wreck-It Ralph,” “The Simpsons”) and co-directed by Jared Bush (“Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero”), opens in theaters on March 4, 2016.

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